Class of 2021 BEQ Pride LGBTQ Leader Under 40
(He, Him) is 31
The year 2020 feels like a worldwide wake-up call in so many ways. As a leader, I realize the most important thing I have learned and will take forward is…
There is strength in visibility and community, especially during times of crisis. 2020 has reaffirmed the power I find in my voice as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community in sports. Inclusion is a team sport – and I am ready to play my part in making sports more inclusive!
Yannick Kluch (Ph.D., Bowling Green State University) is a scholar-activist and educator with a passion for knowledge, higher education, intercollegiate athletics and diversity and inclusion leadership. Kluch serves as an assistant professor and lead faculty consultant at the Rowan University Center for Sports Communication and Social Impact where he drives strategic inclusion initiatives in the university’s athletics department. He is also a nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion thought leader and expert in the U.S. sports industry who consults with the NCAA and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Yannick Kluch provides leadership for national and international diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in sports. Over the past seven years, he has served as a consultant and topic expert on DEI issues for major sports organizations and their governing bodies, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), USA Diving, the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
Kluch recently consulted with USA Diving as they developed their first-ever Diversity Council and a multi-year DEI strategic plan. Far too frequently, sports organizations and associations are dealing with DEI related issues during a public event, within the workplace or among the athlete population. Kluch is frequently invited to comment and speak on issues related to DEI at outlets such as the NCAA Inclusion Forum, the NCAA annual convention and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) annual conference.
Prior to joining Rowan University, Kluch worked in the NCAA Office of Inclusion, where he led national impact projects with high priority social media campaigns. Most notably, he was the lead for the inaugural social media campaign for NCAA Diversity and Inclusion in 2018. The nationally trending Twitter campaign reached over 69 million people and started a national dialog on the value of DEI to the student-athlete experience. The campaign runs annually during the fall semester, with Kluch serving as the primary consultant to the NCAA for the 2019 and 2020 national campaigns.
In addition to direct consulting with the organizations, Kluch also authors resources and content. Recently he created content on student activism for student-athletes as well as content focused on strategies for coaches and administrators to empower student-athletes to use their voice for activist efforts. When content is created for the NCAA, it is shared across its 1,100 member institutions and conference offices.
Earlier this year, Kluch was appointed by the USOPC as one of only four national thought leaders to serve on the inaugural Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice, where he will be advising the Council’s steering committee on athlete protests and demonstrations. Kluch has established himself as a driving force for DEI work in sports as a national leader for inclusive excellence and empowering the voices of national and international athletes.
Sports continue to be an institution in which LGBTQ+ individuals struggle for both visibility and acceptance, according to Kluch. The purpose of his work is to increase the visibility and sense of belonging of LGBTQ+ individuals in sports. He hopes that over the next decade, more members of the LGBTQ+ community will feel safe to come out in sports, shape the sports industry in ways that promote LGBTQ+ inclusion and lead the industry in creating inclusive environments where all members of the LGBTQ+ community can be their authentic selves, belong and thrive.